Bruce Beresford to Direct Buddy Holly Biopic CLEAR LAKE
Director Bruce Beresford, whose iconic film Driving Miss Daisy captured four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, is teaming with Ray and La Bamba Producer Stuart Benjamin, in helping to tell the story of how Buddy Holly and other famous musicians of the late 1950s helped birth rock 'n' roll and change the trajectory of civil rights in America.
Executive Producer Rick French brought Benjamin on board last Fall and together they have been working with screenwriter Patrick Shanahan, BMG -- which manages the Buddy Holly estate and controls the rights to the Holly music publishing catalog in the U.S. -- and The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation on the underpinings of the historically-rich screenplay.
French and Benjamin have enlisted the services of Jenn Presser, CSA and Caitlin Well, CSA of Presser/Well Casting to cast the film, with virtual auditions for the role of Buddy Holly and other central characters underway.
A tentative Fall 2020 start date is being planned, so long as the producing team is convinced it can safely begin principle photography and the production can acquire its completion bond.
Beresford is a multi-time Oscar, Golden Globe and Palme d'Or nominee. His landmark war drama Breaker Morant received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, a script that Beresford helped pen. He later received a Best Director Oscar nomination for Tender Mercies, the story of a broken-down country singer trying to put his life back together. That film won its star Robert Duvall the Best Actor Oscar. His 1989 cinematic masterpiece Driving Miss Daisy, starring a relatively unknown Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy and Dan Aykroyd went on to capture four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film ranks in the top 100 of the America Film Institute's Greatest Films.
His highly acclaimed film Black Robe won the Genie Award for Best Canadian Film, with Beresford capturing Best Director; and his 1999 thriller Double Jeopardy, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd, was a worldwide box office smash. His most recent film, the 2018 Ladies in Black, saw box office success in his native Australia, where it also won four Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. It is now available on Netflix.
"I found myself attracted to Clear Lake because the script tells the tragic story of Buddy Holly and his era in fascinating detail and with vivid characterizations," said Beresford. "Needless to say, the added plus of all the wonderful music was also a major lure."
Benjamin received an Oscar nomination for Ray, a biopic that explored the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, which starred Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington and Regina King. He also received a GRAMMY for the film's soundtrack. In 1987 he produced the music drama La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips, which chronicled the rise from nowhere of a young Ritchie Valens, who died along with Holly and J.P Richardson (The Big Bopper), in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3, 1959.
Clear Lake is being developed by French and Shanahan's Raleigh-based Prix Productions in association with Stuart Benjamin Productions and BMG. Maria Elena Holly, widow of Buddy Holly, Stephen Easley, general counsel to Ms. Holly and The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, and Peter Bradley, Jr. of The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation are associate producers. Shanahan, who adapted French and Easley's original story, is a co-producer.
Beresford is represented by The Gersh Agency, Benjamin is represented by the Johnson & Johnson law firm, and French is represented by Buchwald.